The founder and CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey sat down for a chinwag with David Koch yesterday to talk about the platform, its failings along the way and the challenges of launching something “nobody needed”.
Unlike other social media giants, Twitter has remained relatively unscathed throughout the data and privacy scandal which has completely enveloped the likes of Facebook.
Though, that’s not to say the platform hasn’t faced its own hardship.
Perhaps the most interesting hurdle the Twitter team had to overcome in the early days was the constant criticism the platform was quite simply, not needed.
“When we were starting Twitter, every single person that we encountered said there’s nobody who needs this, and they were right, we were building something nobody needed,” Dorsey said.
“But it turns out as we persisted through that; we needed, we loved it and it turns out people found a reason why they needed it and that’s why it’s become what it has.
“Being open to that evolution is really important,” he added.
While users soon became plentiful, the issue of profit has been ongoing since the platform’s inception.
Some pin it down to a lack of identity, though that’s no longer the case, as Twitter COO Anthony Noto told a group of journalists Twitter had finally found itself during a panel at Cannes Lions last June.
It was a moment of extraordinary clarity for the company, which had reeled from its inability to convince the market of its investment credentials and has been constantly beset with rumours of an imminent takeover.
Since then, the platform has officially turned over its first-ever profit earlier this year, and Dorsey was more than happy to dive into Twitter’s hugely successful turnaround.
For Dorsey, “It started with a focus on knowing who we were serving. I know we have a mindset of chasing after people we don’t have but we’re focused on making Twitter amazing for our users.
He added, “Part two was, ‘what is our job?’, we believe it’s to help people stand together, we believe it’s to offer a space where people can talk about what matters to them.
“So we’re going to focus all of our efforts on those people whereas before we may have been doing too much and not doing any of it that well. We made a lot of hard decisions, losing some of our colleagues in the process all in the spirit of a longer-term view.
“But really, all we know is we need to build something that outlives all of us currently in the company.”
Speaking on long-term goals, Kochie asked Dorsey how the platform handles regulation.
“Our role is not about content it’s about conduct,” Dorsey answered.
“If we see harassment, bad behaviour, if we see misinformation, if we see spam or manipulation; whether it be human or automated, we need to take action.
“If you truly want to have free expression on the platform where everyone feels free to express themselves and not be constantly harassed by people who have other intent, our role is to make sure there’s fair conduct and we take action accordingly.”
Though, he admitted, there’s no quick fix to regulation.
“We need to realise we’re not always going to get it right; any time we make a mistake we need to learn.
“We’re getting better and better. We’re not there yet, but as long as we’re getting more transparent about why we do or don’t take action, I think we’re heading in the right direction.”